Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'S.W.A.T.'

Shemar Moore leads the way in a CBS pilot that, at least for an hour, feels like it's trying to do more than just be another TV/movie remake.
Michael Yarish/CBS
Shemar Moore of 'S.W.A.T.'

[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]

Show: S.W.A.T. (CBS)
The Pitch: "We want to do a cop show." "Cool, we have some familiar character names and a cool theme song."
Quick Response: There are two shows interacting awkwardly in the pilot for CBS' S.W.A.T. There's a serious police procedural about a specialized LAPD unit, fronted by an officer who only narrowly escaped the streets himself, thrust into the public spotlight after a civilian is shot. Then there's a remake of S.W.A.T. complete with a catchy credits theme, a quippy (distractingly ineffective) scene in a barbershop and pyrotechnics from pilot director Justin Lin. The first show has potential to be very good, anchored by Shemar Moore's lead performance. The second has a lot of flash that no director will be able to reproduce after Lin. [Reminder: The Lin-directed high-octane Scorpion pilot birthed what has turned out to be one of TV's most visually deficient shows.] The blended version of the two shows is still interesting and above average, especially in this fall of dismal new network offerings, offering the potential of a CBS procedural with high aspirations. Moore holds the screen well, and he's got a good rag-tag team played by the likes of Kenny Johnson and Jay Harrington, whose "I'm a grown-up drama star now" beard is probably the fall's best, topping those of Mike Vogel and Max Thieriot. As the team's hotshot newbie, Alex Russell's Jim Street is the character who most clearly represents the slickest, shoddiest version of what S.W.A.T. could be, but at least the character is introduced with a snazzy motorcycle chase. None of the female characters in the pilot are interestingly introduced or developed over 44 minutes.
Desire to Watch Again: For an episode or two? Reasonably high. Creator Aaron Rahsaan Thomas is a smart guy and co-showrunner Shawn Ryan is, of course, a master of what would be the best case scenario for this show. The question is if CBS has any interest in a series that leans into the police work and community relations and not the week-to-week repeatable sizzle. It'll probably be clear very early on.

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